Integrating the Mind and the Heart

May 4, 2016

Rev. John Denning, C.S.C.

by Rev. John Denning, C.S.C.

"We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart. While we prepare useful citizens for society, we shall likewise do our utmost to prepare citizens for heaven." - Blessed Basil Moreau

These words of Blessed Moreau are very familiar to us in Holy Cross and to our many lay colleagues who minister alongside us. I walk by them every day, for they are framed outside of my office at Stonehill College. These words speak to our core educational values of assuring that our students not only grow in wisdom but also develop as men and women of highest character and integrity. They also describe the ultimate outcome of a Holy Cross education: to inspire young people to live lives that embody those virtues that bear fruit not only in this life-in service to neighbor and the common good-but for eternity. 

In choosing the word "cultivate," Blessed Moreau reminds us that it is God who plants within the heart and mind of each of our students the grace to come to know of his loving presence. For us as educators in the faith, we seek to help our students integrate both the mind and the heart in their academic studies, as well as within their daily lives. We know that learning happens not only in the laboratory or classroom but also on the athletic field, in their residences, and in both the local and global neighborhoods through their many acts of service. I have witnessed this integration most especially when I have participated with our students in service immersion programs. As students reflect on their experiences, they draw connections between their readings and study and the lived experience of their neighbor. 

Their integration of mind and heart is hopefully the aim of all of us who work with young people. As cultivators of God's grace in their education and lives, we pray to empower them to become engaged citizens, shaping a more just and compassionate world.

Fr. Denning’s reflection above appears in a new edition of The Cross, Our Only Hope: Daily Reflections in the Holy Cross Tradition, which includes contributions from many Holy Cross religious, including 10 who work at Stonehill or who serve in local ministries.